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Monday, January 12, 2009

Paris Day 5 - deeply concerned

Paris to the moon indeed

Today I finished my fifth day and 30th hour of work on the novel since arriving in Paris, also my fifth contribution to La Creation du Monde / 90 Variations. I'm deeply concerned because I am enjoying my work so much. This is not normal behavior, especially for a novelist. I remember arriving at Jentel in June of 2007 and sliding hard into a nasty weeklong depression. Totaling my car against a 250-lb. animal en route probably had something to do with it, but mostly it was the work. I'm helpless, at the end of a day that started at 4:30, to come up with a metaphor that captures what it's like to try to master the chaos of a project like this that's six and a half years in the making - how about artificially inseminating greased pigs? No, that's no good - you want them greased. In any case it's necessarily a mess and this is no exception but I'm just enjoying the clean-up. I'm anal compulsive, I have organizational skills and I'm using them to turn big piles of paper and word docs into one single tidy chronological and labeled document. I don't feel panicked or even hurried despite looking forward to being able to just read this thing, stare at it and the second draft and the third-draft fragment for a few weeks, amplify the notes here and cut there, really get it under my skin before sitting down with 4x6 cards and translating what I've absorbed into an outline for the rest of the third draft. It's bizarrely comforting and pleasurable to go to work and know what you're supposed to be doing. I must be doing it wrong.

I seriously think I'm doing it wrong - how else could my characters be showering me with gifts so generously? Aren't they supposed to sit there in a corner, jaundiced with the end-stages of terminal social anxiety disorder? Today Christopher Mirabilis presented me with an aphorism - an aphorism! He's averaged about one a year over the life of this project and none of them were nearly this good. It feels terribly unlucky to write this down - tomorrow I will have writer's block.

But if that happens I can do what I did this morning during my breakfast break, which was to take pictures out the window of the moon as it set over the 10th:

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Paul Festa’s first film, Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006, 51 min), captures the responses of 31 artists to the apocalyptic music of Olivier Messiaen (with Justin Bond, John Cameron Mitchell, Harold Bloom; screenings: Grace Cathedral, Barbican Centre, Library of Congress; “Remarkable”The New Yorker; “Stunning”Chicago Sun-Times; “Sublime”Globe & Mail; numerous awards). Festa performs the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, opposite members of the San Francisco Ballet and The Cockettes, in his award-winning second film, The Glitter Emergency (2010, 20 min), a silent-film drag ballet comedy (“Enormous visual and musical inventiveness…full of pleasure and joy...Festa gives a bravura performance."—Film Threat). He produced, wrote and edited, with director Austin Forbord, and was chief archivist, for the Emmy-nominated documentary Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco (2010, 80 min: with Robin Williams, Bill Irwin, Peter Coyote; screenings: Geary Theater, KQED; “Intriguing...entertaining...a valuable record”—Variety). Performances as violinist and actor: ODC Theater, Center for Performance Research, Kunst-Stoff, TheatreFIRST, North Bay Shakespeare, Albert Fuller's Helicon Ensemble (Merkin Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall). US, Boston, NYC, SF, LA and DC (Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress on the “Betts” Stradivarius) premieres of Messiaen’s Fantaisie for violin and piano. He is the author of OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, based on Apparition of the Eternal Church, and several anthologized essays, and has written for The Daily Beast, Salon, Nerve, and The New York Times Book Review. Current projects include a novel and Tie It Into My Hand (2014, ca. 80 min), a documentary feature that has screened as a work in progress at the Cannes film market and at ODC Theater in San Francisco (with Alan Cumming, Gary Graffman, Peter Coyote, Mink Stole, Robert Pinsky; "A fascinating exploration of the artistic life, as rollickingly entertaining as it is insightful and stirring."San Francisco Bay Guardian). Education: Yale (B.A.; prizes, honors, distinction), Juilliard (Cert., Adv. Cert., scholarships). Residencies: Yaddo, MacDowell, ODC Theater, Centre des R├ęcollets.

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